Asian stocks mostly down despite Wall St. record

AFP and AP

HONG KONG/NEW YORK — Shanghai and Tokyo shares were hit by profit-taking Friday but most other Asian markets rose after a positive U.S. lead as the Nasdaq broke a 15-year-old record high.

The euro advanced ahead of a eurozone meeting on Greece’s debt crisis, while oil prices edged down after another rally that has been fueled by worries about unrest in Yemen. Tokyo, which hit a 15-year high Thursday after a three-day rally, slipped 0.83 percent. The index lost 167.61 points to end at 20,020.04, with a stronger yen also hitting exporters. Shanghai gave back 0.47 percent, or 20.82 points, to 4,393.69, and Seoul fell 0.63 percent, or 13.61 points, to close at 2,159.80. However, Sydney rallied 1.51 percent, or 88.53 points, to 5,933.3 as energy firms were helped by higher oil prices.

And Hong Kong jumped 233.28 points to 28,060.98 �X the first time it has ended above 20,000 since December 2007 �X boosted by ongoing hopes for more stimulus to boost the Chinese economy. The Nasdaq composite crossed into record territory as U.S. stocks turned higher in afternoon trading Thursday, despite mixed earnings reports from General Motors, Procter & Gamble and others.

After a sluggish morning, the Nasdaq moved above its record close of 5,048.62 from March 2000 shortly before noon. In afternoon trading the index was up 30 points, or 0.6 percent, at 5,066.

The index added 0.42 percent to finish at 5,056.06, finally making up the nearly 4,000 points lost in a stunning crash that followed the previous closing high set on March 10, 2000. The Dow gained 0.11 percent and the S&P added 0.24 percent. Thursday’s advances came despite official data showing fresh claims for U.S. unemployment insurance benefits edged up marginally, while sales of new homes plunged in March after a sharp rise in February. The figures will further muddy the waters for the Federal Reserve as it debates when to hike record-low interest rates. Greece Talks in View The euro bought US$1.0885 and 129.87 yen against US$1.0823 and 129.39 yen in U.S. trade. The single currency is also well up from the US$1.0703 and 128.28 yen in Tokyo earlier Thursday ahead of the meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Latvia’s capital Riga later in the day to talk about Greece. The Eurogroup meeting comes with Athens running out of cash and struggling to reach a bailout reform deal with its creditors that will unlock billions of euros to service its debts to avert a default and likely exit from the eurozone.